It’s natural for parents to worry about their children during their schooling years.
It can be hard to know what to do, however, if your child is really struggling. Are they just going through a rough patch? Will they improve with age? Or is there something else going on?
Many children, especially those with learning difficulties will have various challenges throughout their school life with academic work, communication, social skills and/or group dynamics. As a parent, it can be very distressing to see them struggle and it often leaves us feeling powerless and unsure on the most effective way to help them. The good news is that the ways parents support their child at home can play a very vital role in supporting behaviour, motivation and performance at school. The help, and encouragement that you provide as a parent when your child begins to struggle will have a significant impact on how easily they can get back on track.
In order to best support your child at home, it is important to identify exactly what is causing them to have difficulties in the first place. Your child may be experiencing challenges in one or many areas of school.
Difficulties may include:
Children are not always forthcoming with information about their school life, especially if they have negative feelings associated with it. Unless their teacher has specifically told you that your child is having difficulty at school, it may not always be obvious. There are usually some tell-tale patterns of behaviour, however that can indicate problems at school. These include:
If you are noticing any of these patterns of behaviour, then it is best to speak with their teacher as early as possible to develop strategies for school and for supporting your child at home.
To get the best outcome for your child, it is essential to work in partnership with both the school and the teacher. This will give everyone clear insight into what is happening at both home and school and then as a team, you can pinpoint why the child is having such a challenging time. Ensure that you are forthcoming with the teacher about any information about your child which may impact their behaviour or learning at school. It’s really important to discuss topics that may be quite sensitive including emotional difficulties, divorce or financial problems.
It is also extremely important that the child perceives the teacher and the parent to be a cohesive unit. If the child senses that there is tension between both sides, then this will cause further apprehension and anxiety for them at school. Always speak positively about their teacher. If parents aren’t speaking respectfully about the teacher at home, how can it be expected of the child at school?
Some tips on how to communicate with the teacher:
One of the most helpful ways a parent can help a child who is struggling at school is to create a home environment that is calm, safe, loving and a central place for all family members to reconnect after a long day.
If children are having trouble at school then it is even more important for them to be able to unwind, de-stress and mentally unload when returning home. Empower your child to talk openly about school and allow them a safe space to discuss their feelings honestly. Take the time to just listen to how they are feeling and what their concerns are. Often having an adult to listen to them without telling them what to do, can make a world of difference. It will also help you better understand their point of view and determine the best ways in which you can support them.
See Learning Links Parenting Programs for more help on positive parenting.
Other ways to help include:
Even though it is hard to watch as a parent, overcoming struggle is an important opportunity for growth and resilience in children. There have been many adults who struggled at school as children, but then went on to make outstanding achievements in their respective fields. Parents can support children in many ways and help them to change their mindset to ensure that their struggle at school becomes a meaningful, life-long learning lesson.
Raising children Network – Problem Solving Strategies for Parents and Teachers
Maggie Dent – Helping Children who Struggle at School
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